After being 55 for three in 10 overs, New Zealand went on to score 194 for four in the third and final T20I against Bangladesh at the Bay Oval. Extraordinary indeed! Corey Anderson smashed a blazing 41-ball 94, and how many sixes did the left-hander hit on way to his highest T20 score? A small matter of 10. And four of those mighty blows settled the fate of the game as Bangladesh in their chase managed 167 for seven.
The Tigers prospered when the Black Caps faltered, scoring 80 for one in eight overs thanks to a sublime 42 from Soumya Sarker. But the visitor stumbled for an umpteenth time after that, losing their way in a situation while their opponents excelled. Shakib Al Hasan scored 41 off 34 balls but his effort had more to do with reducing the margin of defeat. The 27-run defeat was Bangladesh's lowest in their six limited overs games but it did little to avoid successive 3-0 whitewashes after the ODI thrashing.
Black Caps captain Kane Williamson may have been extremely docile compared to what Anderson had done against a Bangladesh attack that suffered from real stage-fright in the face of a terrific assault. But his 57-ball 60 was the backbone of a spectacular turnaround. The fourth-wicket partnership of 124 off 72 balls between Anderson and Williamson was a classic case of the Kiwis thriving after an early wobble in the limited-overs series so far.
For the Tigers it was once again an inexplicable surrender after making early in-roads and on Sunday the bowling lost its composure after it reduced the Black Caps to 41 for three. The fielding, under pressure, simply caved in. Believe it or not Shakib Al Hasan dropped a sitter at midwicket off Mashrafe when Williamson was on 53. It was then the turn of Tamim Iqbal to drop Williamson at deep square-leg. On a ground where a miss-hit turned into a six due to the strong wind blowing across the ground, Anderson simply toyed with the Bangladesh bowlers.
In that mix Shakib bowled intelligently to finish with nought for 22 in four overs. This is a figure any top bowler would be proud of on an absolute belter of a wicket. Rubel Hossain, understandably the lucky one to have bowled with the wind, was the most successful Bangladesh bowler with three for 31 in his four overs.
Mashrafe, who injured his right thumb while trying to stop the ball on his follow through and could not finish his quota of four overs, was the most expensive other than Soumya, conceding 42 runs in his 3.2 overs. He tried Soumya for one over and that simply backfired. His gentle medium pace cost 21 runs with Anderson hitting three sixes in that over.
Imrul Kayes also injured his left knee while fielding, leaving Soumya to come out to bat with Tamim Iqbal. And that was the best sight Bangladesh has had in this series so far. They put on 44 runs in 4.4 overs, a reminder of their exploits during their home dominance. But Tamim got out after scoring a 15-ball 24. Soumya was at his sublime best, caressing the ball down to the boundary. Bangladesh's hopes of making it a match actually hinged on Soumya. But he could not make it big as Anderson did. The left-hander top-edged an attempted sweep against leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who took a brilliant running catch behind his shoulder. Sabbir quickly followed him, playing too far from the line of a straighter delivery from Williamson and was clean bowled. Mahmudullah Riyad was undone by a wrong-one from Sodhi, the most successful New Zealand bowler with two for 22 in his four overs.
Bangladesh will now get four days before embarking on an even more challenging series when the first of the two Test starts at Wellington on January 12.